On a wind-swept beach along the cliffs of Lyme Regis in the early days of the 19th century, two women stumble upon an amazing revelation.

A large scale fossilized creature unlike any other living creature on the planet.

What to make of this behemoth? If it doesn’t exist now, then how could it have left its skeleton behind?

A Remarkable Creature indeed, this strange bony being that Tracy Chevalier writes about in her  brilliantly researched novel.

Remarkable also that finding these remains incited so many questions in the minds of Chevalier’s characters, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, the two women fossil hunters who discovered the skeleton.

Silly me, I was surprised at how revolutionary the concept of extinction once was, and not all that long ago either. As Elizabeth explains it,  the idea that a species could “die out” when/if it was no longer suited for life in its environment was “troubling to people because it suggested that God does not have a hand in it, that He created animals and then sat back and let them die.”  It implied that “God could make mistakes and need to correct Himself.”

Reverend Jones is quite adamant on the subject. “It is really very simple,” he assures Elizabeth, who comes to him with her questions. “All that you see about you is as God set it out in the begining. He did not create beasts and then get rid of them. That would suggest He had made a mistake, and of course God is all-knowing and incapable of error…”

So sure they were in their convictions, those people of the 19th century.

I read, and I wonder – what convictions do we hold with such certainty that will one day be proven otherwise?


4 thoughts on “Revelations

  1. I always wonder that about our convictions and facts we feel so sure we know. It will be very curious when I’m old to look back on my youth and see how much our perceptions of the world have changed.

  2. I know this book dealt with feminist issues but didn’t quite realize it has the science vs religion issue going on, too. Duh. I look forward to reading this.

  3. I’m hoping to read this novel very soon! I often think that we will be disproved in our beliefs just like every other generation has been. I am sure we will be disproved one way or another about the environment (it will either be much better or much worse than we fear) and I think we will be seen as an extraordinarily materialistic era, owning far, far more than we need.

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